BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Many people living in Bedford County are wondering what will happen to dozens of dogs and the owner accused of animal cruelty.
The sheriff’s office needs help keeping the dogs safe after rescuing them from what was described as a horrific situation in a Goodview home Wednesday. On Tuesday, the day of the rescue, the number of dogs seized was 26, but now, that number rose to 29.
Sergeant Allison Key has saved a lot of dogs in her 20 years of service, but she says she’s never experienced a situation as dire.
“We started to smell the smell of urine and feces,” Key says. “The wave of the ammonia hit us in the face. We realized immediately that we had a cruelty case.”
An anonymous tip led Bedford County sheriff’s deputies to a Goodview home. Inside, they found 29 dogs and nearly all of them were locked up in crates.
“The dogs were saturated in urine, most had feces in their fur,” Key says. “There were several dogs inside of the residence that were in rough shape.”
It took deputies more than seven hours to get the dogs out safely. Half are now at the Bedford County Animal Shelter; half are at Riverside Veterinary Hospital in Goode.
Key says they rate each dogs’ health on a scale of one-10, with one being the worst. Most of the dogs found inside the home are at a one or two.
“Most of the dogs that were in the kennels were pawing at the door trying to get out,” she says. “It was like they were looking you in the eye saying please help.”
The owner, Thomas Duggins, is facing animal cruelty charges. The misdemeanor for each dog could result in fines and/or jail time.
According to court documents, this isn’t the first time. However, because Duggins’ previous animal cruelty charges were dropped and no dog died, he can’t be charged with a felony.
The dogs have a long road to recovery, and the shelter is already at full capacity.
“It may have started out bad, but with the help and support of our community, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is going to turn into a great situation for these animals,” Key adds.
Two things must happen before the 29 dogs go up for adoption. A vet must clear them and the owner must be convicted; otherwise, he could get the dogs back.
In the meantime, people can adopt other dogs to make room in the shelter and donate.
For those interested in helping the rescued dogs, the sheriff’s office recommended giving donations to Friends of Bedford County Animal Shelter. You can click here to go to the nonprofit’s donation page.